Well-being of families with babies – FinChildren

Relevance of statistical data  

The results of the statistical report of the Well-being of families with babies – FinChildren 2020 survey are based on the data collection carried out in 2020 in the FinChildren survey. The examination concerns the parents of babies aged between 3 and 6 months. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare implements the FinChildren survey.  

The role of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare is to follow the health and welfare of the population. The FinChildren survey implements this task for children under school age and their families. The data collection comprises the welfare, health and functional capacity and lifestyles of families with children, the safety of the growth environment as well as the need, availability and adequacy of services and support.

The data can be utilised in the planning, implementation, assessment and reporting of welfare and health promotion activities for families with children as well as the planning, assessment and development of the services for families with children in municipalities, counties, and the national level. The results can also be used in the monitoring included in national steering and the assessment of political decisions.


The FinChildren survey was carried out nationwide and concerned babies aged 3–6 months and children aged 4 and their families. 

The FinChildren survey was launched under the name Children's Health, Well-being and Services survey (LTH). In 2017, a pilot study on the health, well-being and services of families with babies was carried out in the region of six counties. In 2018, the first national data collection on 4-year-olds and their families was carried out, and a statistical report focusing on this age group was published in 2019. In 2018, families were asked to participate in the study in connection with their child’s health examination at the child health clinic, and data were also collected from the public health nurses at the child health clinic. 

Since 2020, data collection has only been carried out as a postal survey aimed at parents. In the future, the aim is to carry out data collection for babies and families of 4-year-olds once every four years, next time in 2024. 

The personal data of the parents of babies belonging to the target group of the 2020 data collection were extracted from the Digital and Population Data Services Agency’s (DVV) Population Information System. The sampling criteria was defined as the data of the guardians of all babies born during the examined periods with a permanent address. The data included the baby’s personal identity code and the parents’ names and address, the year and country of birth, gender, marital status and mother tongue, and, starting with sample number four, also the language of service. The data did not contain the parent’s personal identity code.

Six separate total samples were collected in 2020: Three in spring and three in autumn 2020. Each sample included the data of the parents of babies born in a given four-week period. The babies had been born in the periods: 25 November 2019–16 February 2020 (spring samples) and 20 April ‒12 July 2020 (autumn samples). The parents were first approached when the youngest baby in the sample was 12 weeks and the oldest 16 weeks old. 

All research material was sent to both of the baby’s parents by post addressed to the recipient. First, an invitation letter was sent to the parents, which included an address to an online form and a personal ID and password for logging into the form. The invitation also mentioned the purpose, content and data protection of the study and an opportunity for participating in a prize draw when responding to the survey. 

If necessary, three reminders for filling out the survey were sent to the parents. A paper questionnaire was sent in connection with the first and third reminders. Each reminder contained the IDs for responding to the online form.  

The data collection started on 12 March 2020, at which point an invitation letter was sent to the parents in the first sample. The parents were approached between 12 March and 8 July 2020 (total spring samples) and between 5 August and 8 December 2020 (total autumn samples). All responses returned by 12 January 2021 were included in the research data. At this point, the oldest baby in the sample was six months old. 

A prize draw was held where respondents could win Finnish babies’ clothes received as donations. The prize draw aimed at improving the response rate. Permission for the prize draw was sought and obtained from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s working group on research ethics and the institute’s management. The prize draw was carried out in six parts: the first occurred on 27 April 2020 and the last on 2 February 2021.

The content of the questionnaire forms for both parents was largely identical. The form for the parent who gave birth also contained questions about breastfeeding and contraception, while the form for the other parent included questions about the reconciliation of work and family life. On 31 July 2020, questions about the coronavirus epidemic were added to both parents’ questionnaires (in total 7,570 respondents, including 4,574 parents who gave birth and 2,996 other parents). The parents had the opportunity to reply to the questionnaire in Finnish, Swedish, Northern Sámi, English, Russian, Somali or Arabic. The questionnaire forms can be viewed on the THL website at thl.fi/finlapset.
The returned paper questionnaires were stored optically. The optical data storage process included logical checks to the responses as well as standardisation based on previously given instructions, for instance, regarding incorrectly answering questions. The research data were checked for possible errors, deficiencies and illogicalness. Responses to online forms were collected through the THL form service.

To expand the data contents, the data collected from parents will be connected to register data obtained using the child’s personal identity code as soon as these registers are completed and permits are obtained from register keepers. The used registers include the Medical Birth Register (children aged 3–6 months), register of health care notifications, the Register of Congenital Malformations (4-year-olds), child welfare register (4-year-olds) and Information on care allowances, purchases of pharmaceuticals and reimbursements for medicine expenses granted to the child by Kela and family leaves granted because of the child, and data concerning the child in the MyKanta service (entries made on the child in the MyKanta service). The combined results of the survey and register data will be published in separate publications. The privacy notice can be accessed on the THL website at thl.fi/finlapset.

In addition to THL, the data collection has been financed through funding coordinated by THL allocated for research in Covid-19 in the supplementary budget.

Correctness and accuracy of data

The appendix tables 1a and 1b illustrate the coverage of the total samples obtained from DVV using the separate data ordered from Statistics Finland. The separate data from Statistics Finland contains the number of parents of the babies born in the time periods corresponding to the 2020 research samples and age-group specific data on the parents’ education at the national and regional level. As a result of a legislative amendment, the processing of children’s care data in the Population Information System changed, and introducing the change was still underway at DVV at the time of data extraction. As a result, direct marketing ban and the parent's housing arrangements affected the sampling. Based on the comparison, the coverage of the data concerning women in the DVV sample was 87 per cent, and varied from 84 to 99 per cent between counties. The corresponding share was 81 per cent for men with regional variation ranging from 77 to 90 per cent.

The six total samples of the FinLapset 2020 survey consisted of the data provided by DVV on the parents of babies born in a given four-week period. Of these data, guardians without a direct marketing ban living in the same address as the child were extracted. After taking the data of parents of multiple birth families contained by the DVV total sample into consideration in that the parent was included in the data only once, the resulting research sample included 17,964 (53%) parents who gave birth and 16,112 (47%) other parents. Response rates were 50 per cent for the parents who gave birth and 36 per cent for the other parents. Appendix tables 2a, 2b and 2c describe the response rates according to parenthood, response type and background factors. Appendix table 3 compares the education of the responding parents with the educational structure in separate data obtained from Statistics Finland. 

In total, 8,977 parents who gave birth and 5,843 other parents filled out the questionnaire. Appendix tables 4a and 4b describe the numbers and shares of the respondents and non-respondents according to background factors.

The parents included in the study sample had a total of 19,382 babies, 9,536 girls and 9,846 boys. The parents of multiple birth families were instructed to respond based on the baby that was born first. The register data on the child will be linked to the first-born baby. The sample contained two parents for 14,694 (76%), only the parent who gave birth for 3,270 (17%) and only the other parent for 1,418 (7%) of the babies.

Representativeness of data

A total of 14,820 parents responded to the survey (Appendix tables 2a, 2b, 2c, 4a and 4b). 10,088 (29.6%) parents filled out the online questionnaire and 4,732 (13.9%) the paper version. Response rates were 50.0 per cent for the parents who gave birth and 36.3 per cent for the other parents. The parents who gave birth were more active in participating in the study than the other parents (50.0% vs. 36.3%). Response rates varied based on age groups as those aged 30-39 participated in the study most actively. Response rates also varied between regions (40–49%). The rates were highest in South Karelia and Pirkanmaa (49%). The response rates were the lowest in South Ostrobothnia and Kainuu (40% and 41%). An examination of the response rates based on the respondents’ country of origin revealed that the response rate of those born in Finland was 46 per cent and of those born abroad was 32 per cent. (Appendix tables 2a, 2b, 2c, 4a and 4b.) 

The parents’ education was compared to separate data ordered from Statistics Finland, which contained aggregate data of the parents of babies born in the time periods corresponding to the 2020 research samples. The parents of multiple birth families cause overcoverage in the data, as the parents of all babies born during the determined period were included in the sample regardless of whether the parents had had one or more babies. Parents with a basic or upper secondary degree responded less often than parents who had graduated from a university of applied sciences or higher education. (Appendix table 3.)

Of the non-responding parents who gave birth, 40 per cent were under 30, 54 per cent were between 30 and 39, and 6 per cent were at least 40 years old. The corresponding rates for the other parents were 26, 58 and 16 per cent. The average age of the non-responding parents was 31.0 (SD 5.5) for the parents who gave birth and 33.7 (SD 6.2) for the other parents. The rates of the non-respondents with a foreign background were 22 per cent for the parents who gave birth and 18 per cent for the other parents. While the average age of the non-respondents was not different from the average age of the respondents, the non-respondents included more parents representing younger age groups and those with a foreign background compared to the parents who responded to the survey. (Appendix tables 4a and 4b.)

Timeliness and promptness of published data 

The basic results of the FinChildren survey will be completed within around two months after the end of the data collection. 

Availability, transparency and clarity

The national, regional and municipal results of the FinLapset survey are published as data cubes and result summaries in the THL database reports and database system (TIKU) at: thl.fi/finlapsetkysely/tulokset. The distribution of responses of the question used in forming the indicator is also published in the data cubes and result summaries. 

Comparability of statistical data 

The results of the FinChildren survey are reported as indicators. Some of the indicators describing the well-being of families with babies are consistent with the data collection of the 2017 pilot study and some with the indicators used in the 2018 data collection concerning four-year-old children and their families. As the data collection methods were partly different, comparability can only be considered indicative. 

Clarity, integrity and cohesion

The questionnaire forms used for data collection in the FinChildren survey include permanent sections which can be supplemented with modules for more rarely collected data. The permanent parts comprise questions on the welfare, health and availability of services for families with children. This enables forming time series in the future and examining changes occurring as time passes. The modules can be used to further explore a certain topic or include more questions dealing with topical phenomena as necessary.